Photo by: Henoc Kivuye
The Major League Draft has not called upon an Oklahoma Christian University baseball player in well over a decade. This year, however, history would be made as Oklahoma Christian sent a pair to the next level.
Sophomore Cale Coshow and senior Chris Burgess have spent the last several years of their careers paralleled by circumstance and opportunity.
After both spent time playing at the University of Oklahoma, Coshow and Burgess transferred to Oklahoma Christian for the 2013 season and shined on the mound for the newest member of the Heartland Conference.
With the most recent chapter of his career in the rearview now, Coshow added the value he places on the time he spent as a pitcher for the Eagles.
“It was the best time of my life,” Coshow said. “People do not realize how amazing OC is until they go away from it. That is why I cannot wait to return and graduate when the time comes, not to mention we have the best coaches and they firmly believe that it is God first, sport second.”
The 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft served as yet another chapter in the paralleled baseball careers of the right-handed hurlers, calling both Coshow and Burgess to “the show” in the same day.
Coshow, a six-foot five-inch, 206-pound starter for the Eagles, was announced in the 13th round as the newest member of the New York Yankees.
Coshow, an active member of Oklahoma Christian’s Eagles for Christ team, alluded to his thoughts and pre-draft mentality.
“I knew I had a shot of getting drafted, I just did not know what round or what team,” Coshow said. “There was a lot of anxiety, but faith had a major part in the draft experience.”
The Deer Creek High School graduate went 2-0 in his freshman season at Oklahoma, before transferring to Oklahoma Christian for his sophomore year where he went 3-5 with a 4.56 ERA with 69 strikeouts in 73 innings of work for the Eagles.
As the 404th selection overall, Coshow also served as the first Heartland Conference player taken in the 2013 Draft.
“It is a grind, but I love it,” Coshow said. “The travel and living out of suitcases is really hard as well as not seeing my family, but God has blessed me with this opportunity so it makes it worth it when I have his support as well as my entire family behind me.”
Coshow made his professional debut for the Staten Island Yankees on June 21, providing two innings of relief for New York’s Class A short-season affiliate
Unlike Coshow, 2013 did not mark the first time Burgess’ name was announced in the draft.
While at Black Hawk Junior College in Illinois, Burgess was selected in the 30th round by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011, but chose not to sign.
Two years later, Burgess’ name was called again, this time in the 26th round by the Philadelphia Phillies – an offer that he gladly accepted.
The six-foot two-inch, 210-pound Chicagoan transferred to Oklahoma Christian after the fall semester of 2012, acting as a Christmas present and bolstering the Eagles’ pitching staff.
The hard-throwing closer with a knee-buckling slider went 7-0 for the Eagles in the closing role. He set the single-season record at Oklahoma Christian for saves with nine, and posted a 1.54 ERA in 41 innings, fanning 52 and holding opponents to a .188 average.
He made his professional debut on June 19 with the Williamsport Crosscutters. Like Coshow’s Staten Island home, the Crosscutters were the Class A short-season affiliates of the Phillies in the New York-Penn League.
It did not take long for Burgess to progress in the Phillies’ system and a couple of weeks later, he received a promotion to the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws, also in the Phillies’ system.
“I was excited to be moved up two weeks into professional baseball and I took it as an honor,” Burgess said. “It is definitely different from college baseball.”
On July 11, Burgess made history once again, this time for the BlueClaws. Following the performances of two fellow BlueClaw pitchers, Burgess closed out a three-pitcher no-hitter – the fourth in their history.
Burgess commented on what he attributes to his early success in professional baseball.
“You have to want it,” Burgess said. “What you put in is what you will get out of this game. In the minors it is more about development than stats. You have to learn how to wash away a bad day. Learning about failure was a struggle for me at first, but taking my lumps and moving on has proven to be a very big thing.”
The pair of pitchers has spent a great deal of their upper-level playing days alongside each other, a luxury that Coshow views as a privilege.
“[Burgess] is one of the best guys I know,” Coshow said. “It is always nice to know that one of my friends is grinding along with me.”
Head Baseball Coach Lonny Cobble also counts his experience with the pair as an honor. The skipper alluded to the struggle of replacing the talented bookend pitchers that Coshow and Burgess proved to be.
“[Coshow] and [Burgess] both have had outstanding rookie seasons, and have represented Oklahoma Christian University in a positive way,” Cobble said. “They were hard workers and leaders not only on the field, but off the field as well. They will be missed in the spring not only for their talent, but for their leadership as well.”
As for his time spent as an Eagle, Burgess claims that the 2013 season will be unforgettable.
“I loved it,” Burgess said. “Everyone from the coaching staff to the players was very accepting of me coming at semester. I had a great season and, better yet, met some great people who I can call my friends for life.”